Decoding ‘XMT’ Washington State Plates


Everyone seems to have a way to spot an undercover cop car.

These days, it’s not so easy. Unmarked Dodge Chargers and other stealthily vehicles used by police for traffic enforcement are hard to spot. Obviously, they do this for a reason — so aggressive speeders won’t see them.

But what about determining which kind of law enforcement you’re receiving a financial spanking from?

The cop’s uniform (click here to read about the different ones) should be a dead giveaway. But if you want to know by simply looking at their vehicle, here’s how:

Law enforcement, like many public agencies in the state, use “exempt” plates on some of their vehicles. In order to figure out if the plate is exempt, look at the left of the regular letters on the plate — it will bear the letters “XMT” vertically.

The last three letters of the plate explains what agency the vehicle is from. I queried the Department of Licensing, and Christine Anthony, a spokeswoman, provided me with a list of the last three letters, and what they represent:

Counties (e.g. Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office)

Cities (e.g. Port Orchard, Poulsbo, Bainbridge, Bremerton Police)


State motor pool

Washington State Patrol (note: “marked” state troopers generally have “WSP” as the first three letters and their badge identifier as the last three or four)

State Department of Transportation

Motorcycles with exemptions (a motorcycle cop, for instance)

Other state agencies with exempt plates not mentioned above

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